- Alexis Rhiannon, Ellen Chamberlain
How to Celebrate Cross-Culturally (Without Calling for an All-Out War on Christmas)
Updated: Jun 27, 2022
We’re pretty sure Santa can fend for himself, anyway.
With the winter holidays approaching, ‘tis officially the season of smiling tight-lippedly at your coworkers, on Zoom or in the elevator, and trying desperately not to offend by offering the wrong seasonal greeting as you scurry to your desk.
As fun as that sounds—please note the sarcasm here—there’s another way. Since the holidays are supposed to be a celebratory time, and because there’s nothing very joyful about tip-toeing around your colleagues, this is your sign to enter this sometimes-fraught season in a spirit of curiosity, openness, and celebration that’s welcoming and inclusive of our global coworkers.
So how exactly are you supposed to do that? It’s a more common question than you probably realize, which is why we made cross-cultural holidays the subject of our latest training nudge. (Spoiler alert: broadening your office celebrations does not in any way include waging a war on Christmas, so you can rest easy. Ideally, as visions of sugar plums dance in your head.)
Why this is important
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a whopping 97% of civilian employees are given both Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day off from work, without even needing to ask for it. (Not that we’re complaining, by the way. Full disclosure, we here at Ethena get the full week off between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and you will hear zero objections from us about it.)
But of course, those American juggernauts are far from the only holidays nestled at the end of the year, secular or otherwise. They just happen to be the only ones that have made it to federal holiday status, so without significant effort, they can wind up eclipsing global celebrations like:
We get it. There’s no guarantee that anyone in your workplace celebrates these holidays—not to mention all of the others that we didn’t include here—and there are budgets, deliverables, and staffing (oh, my!), and all kinds of other factors that can go into deciding when you can grant employees some time away from the office.
But regardless of your rubric, there’s always room to celebrate and honor everyone’s cultural and lived experiences.
What to do about it
Might we “step in it” a bit as we figure out how to make space for cross-cultural celebrations? Absolutely. But don’t let that dissuade you from trying. (Especially because the reward is literally more celebration. Who can say no to that?)
Here are just a few quick ways to expand holiday celebrations this season to include more (if not all!) of your office mates:
Send out a list that allows your coworkers to anonymously contribute any holidays they’d like to see celebrated in the office
Ask broad questions like, “Does your family have any traditions around this time of year?”
Challenge the office to a bake-off where the theme is “your favorite childhood holiday dessert”
If your company has a newsletter, think about calling out a holiday (or a few) in each edition
Dedicate a communications channel to holidays and encourage cross-cultural learning all year long
Let us help
Making the workplace more inclusive around the holidays is hugely important, but the importance of that work doesn’t stop the moment the calendar flips into January, either. And since we don't want you to feel pressure to do all that heavy lifting alone, we’d be delighted if you’d let us come along and take some of the weight off your shoulders.
Ethena was launched to provide exactly this kind of continuous learning for evolving concepts, and we flatter ourselves when we say that we’ve gotten pretty good at keeping learners engaged while we keep them within compliance. And honestly, we just love talking about this type of stuff, so we’d leap at the chance to be in your corner, passing along what we’ve learned, and getting feedback on precisely what works and what doesn’t for you and your workplace.
Learn more about Ethena’s compliance training for today’s teams here!